Tag Archives: Literature

  • Saturday, April 18, 2015

    We all know this scene: you’re at your local thrift store or flea market and you spot a bin of vinyl records. You carefully thumb through them, admiring intricate artwork and the faces of artists both familiar and foreign. Whether you're on the hunt for a rare vintage record or looking to add to your vintage vinyl collection, hunting is half the fun! Suddenly, you land on an album that speaks to your heart- but what next? Whether you’re a casual listener or thinking of beginning a collection, buying vintage vinyl can be tricky, so here are a few things to keep in mind before purchasing!

    Image via A Beautiful Mess

    When buying vintage vinyl, you first should inspect the sleeve. Are the edges or spine torn, worn, or frayed? The sleeve of an LP, which is short for long-playing record because of their 10-12 inch diameter, is generally an indicator of the shape a record is in. But don’t fret- if the record's album art is what you’re truly in love with, it may be worth investing in as a piece of artwork.

    After inspecting the sleeve, carefully remove the record from the jacket and hold it up to the nearest light source. It may have a layer of dirt or dust, which can is an easy fix with a dry brush or special vinyl-safe liquid cleaner. Things like fingerprints can be easily removed, and small, hairline scratches in the vinyl, as long as sparse, usually won’t drastically affect the quality of the sound, so don’t let those put you off. When buying vintage records, you should always check for things like deep scratches, marks, and, most importantly, warp in the vinyl- these can cause the sound to distort or record to skip.

    There is also a huge market for vintage records online. From auction sites to specialized websites, if your dream record doesn't make the cut in person, you can always try to find another copy on the internet. When browsing vintage records online, you can determine the quality of the record by the grade given by the seller. There is a grading system used for vinyl that is as follows:

    Mint or (M): Mint means that the record is flawless and appears to have never been handled or taken out of the sleeve, which will also be in perfect condition. This is very rare when it comes to vintage records and can usually mean a much higher sticker price!

    Near Mint or (NM) or (M-): Near Mint means the record is in excellent condition and is relatively flawless. There might a scuff on the vintage record that does not affect the play or very minor wear to the cover, but it is almost perfect.

    Excellent or (E) or (VG++): Excellent indicated that the record has a few minor scuffs that do not affect the sound of the record at all and there is only slight wear to the album cover.

    Very Good Plus or (VG+): Very Good Plus records typically show their wear. They still play well, but their flaws are visible to the naked eye. There will also be some aging to the jacket in the form of yellowing, tears, or marks.

    Very Good or (VG): Very Good records may show their wear, but they still play well. This grade of vintage record usually plays with surface noise (some crackling and popping) and the cover of the record will be visibly worn.

    Good or (G): A Good record will be easily identifiable. It will have visible wear and damage on the vinyl, but will still play. Unlike Very Good records, the surface noise will be continuous and more audible. The artwork on the cover will be worn and there may be a ring where the record was inside. In addition, there may be writing on the cover or tape where the spine has split.

    Buying vintage records using this system can be tricky because one’s Near Mint may be another’s Excellent. The subjectivity of the grading system can sometimes make buying online more difficult than easy, so keep this in mind when purchasing via the Internet! 

    Image via A Beautiful Mess

    Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Whether you’re buying in person or online, get the scoop on the record you’ve set your sights on. Where did it come from? How long have they had it? Inquiries are a great way to get a history lesson and learn more about the care previously given to your record, and you may learn a thing or two about the artist or album in question, or befriend a fellow fan of buying vintage records! 

    Once the vintage record is in your possession, make sure you have a plastic sleeve for the album and paper inner sleeve for your record to protect it from accidentally falling out of the jacket and keeping the dust away. Plastic inner sleeves can stick to the vinyl, so they aren’t necessary, especially for those in warmer climates. Speaking of warmer climates, heat can adversely affect vinyl, so always store your precious records away from vents, fireplaces and direct sunlight. One of the most important things to keep in mind when it comes to caring for vintage records is that it is imperative to store records standing up to avoid warping!

    When you’re ready to play your vintage record, place the disc between faced-in palms on the very edge of the record to avoid leaving fingerprints. Carefully set it on your record player, move over the record needle, turn up the volume, and enjoy the soothing sounds of your latest purchase (dancing optional).


    This post originally appeared on March 28th, 2014.

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  • Friday, August 22, 2014

    Photography: Brandon Kidd

    With the proliferation of denim in America over the last 150 years, it’s easy to take the fabric in all its variations for granted. In honor of this classic wardrobe staple, we’ve set our sights on creatively styling chambray and denim for the spring and summer to give this essential a new spin. But before we jump into mixing and matching our favorite denim items this season, let’s take a look at the history of the fabric we’ve all welcomed into our wardrobes.

    The history of denim begins in Europe, where the fabric was originally referred to as “serge de Nimes.” Navy sailors in Genoa, Italy wore pants of this fabric out to sea, and these trousers became known as “bleu de Genes,” meaning “the blue of Genoa.” This phrase was later shortened to “jeans” in America, whereas the “de Nimes” fabric became “denim.”

    When German immigrant Levi Strauss ended up in California, he wanted to address the problem many Gold Rush miners were experiencing -- their pants were not strong enough to handle the wear and tear of their profession. He first attempted to make pants out of heavy canvas, and while this material could withstand the miner’s working conditions, they were far from comfortable. Strauss decided to swap the canvas for “serge de Nimes” and developed the concept of using rivets to strengthen the construction of the pants. The official birthday of “blue jeans” is May 20, 1873, the day the patent on these rivets passed. From then on, blue jeans became an essential part of the working class wardrobe.

    With the popularity of Westerns in the early to mid-twentieth century, denim became a Hollywood symbol. Celebrities like Gene Autry, John Wayne, and Roy Rogers made blue jeans an iconic must-have, representing Americana at its core. But once James Dean wore denim in Rebel Without a Cause, blue jeans also began to signify a culture of youth and freedom. By the mid 1960s, boutiques in New York City began selling jeans that they’d washed for a distressed effect, and in new silhouettes, such as bell-bottoms, that were gaining steam in the anti-mainstream market.

    As the years progressed, different lengths and washes of blue jeans became standard. In 1979, the character Daisy Duke on the show The Dukes of Hazzard made cut-off denim shorts popular. Her signature style of shorts are still referred to as “Daisy Dukes” and worn today by younger crowds. Stone-washing became a popular effect in the 1980s, and wearing ripped or decorated jeans was not uncommon. And by the 90s, denim skirts, colored denim, and baggy jeans were popular among American teens and became renowned symbols of the decade. It’s impressive that in less than half a century, denim stepped out of its classic workwear position and became a versatile must-have across the board.

    Photography: Brandon Kidd

    We’re thrilled that denim has remained an important part of fashion by expanding to cover so many trends. You can now purchase jeans in a multitude of washes, cuts, and colors, and we want them all -- from retro high-waisted cuts and chic skinny fit pants to trendy boyfriend jeans and lightweight chambray shirts. With your newfound appreciation for “serge de Nimes,” how will you be styling your denim and chambray this year?


    This post originally appeared on March 17th, 2014

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  • Tuesday, July 8, 2014

    Summer is in full swing and we can't think of anything more relaxing than sitting on the warm sand or under tall, lush trees with a good book. A novel provides a wonderful escape where you can be whisked away to a completely different time period (or world!) and become engrossed in the lives and thoughts of characters. Here are a few of our favorite classic novels for you to spend your summer days musing over! 

    To the Lighthouse by Virgina Woolf: Published in 1927, this novel details the Scottish travels of the Ramsay family during 1910 and 1920. Instead of traditional storytelling, Woolf's modernist style focuses on introspective narration with an emphasis on perception and observation. To the Lighthouse demonstrates to readers that characters are not always good and evil; but contain multitudes that can make them both unreliable and complicated. Woolf's three-dimensional characters along with her beautiful storytelling make this a must-read!

    The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins: The woman in white that appears at the beginning of the text propels the story into a whirlpool of mystery. With dramatic events at every turn of the page and filled with multiple narrators, this novel will capture both your inner detective and imagination. Published in 1859, this text is one of the first "sensation novels," meaning it is filled with melodrama and gothic elements, which creates a story that is both enthralling and entertaining. You won't be able to put this book down until the truth to the mystery is revealed!

    A Room With A View by E.M. Forster: If novels filled with romance have you swooning, this dynamic text is the one for you! Published in 1908, the story is centered around Lucy Emerson, a repressed woman living during the Edwardian era who wants to embark on a free life alongside the man who has her heart. With romantic settings in both Italy and England, this emotional rollercoaster of a novel is a bookshelf essential.

    Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys: Any Jane Eyre fan will have their interest piqued at the notion of a prequel to Bronte's classic text. A detailing of the life of the infamous Bertha, or in this text, Antoinette, Rhys tackles issues of colonization and questions to the true character and intentions of the beloved Rochester. This 1966 text challenges the romantic nature of Jane Eyre, and provides readers with an alternative perspective through which to view characters, even ones that are deemed evil.

    Nine Stories by JD Salinger: This collection of short stories by the adored author of Catcher in the Rye includes some of his most famous shorter works. Ranging from comedic to dark, each of the stories is incredibly powerful and captures the beauty and complexity of the human condition.

    Image Sources: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5

    We can't wait to sit back and be absorbed into each of these literary masterpieces! Which of these books have you added to your summer reading list? 


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  • Sunday, June 8, 2014

    Anyone with a copy of The Fault In Our Stars on their bookshelf will agree that the novel is a beautiful tale of overcoming obstacles and romance. Here is our favorite quote from the book -  it makes our hearts melt every time! 


  • Friday, April 11, 2014

    While there's a certain beauty found in pushing oneself through heady classic literature, there's also nothing like unwinding with a clever graphic novel. If you're on the hunt for a relaxing read that you can revisit time and time again, here are some of our current favorites in the graphic novel department.

    French Milk by Lucy Knisley: The perfect read for Francophiles, this illustrated journal documents Knisley's six-week trip to Paris with her mom. Filled with thoughts of her boyfriend back home, her relationship with her mother, and her milestone birthday, Knisley weaves in these deeper topics with commentary on delicious food and tourist spots.

    Ghost World by Daniel Clowes: This 90s graphic novel features the oddly dark and humorous adventures of two best friends who are worried about growing apart. Adapted to the screen in 2001, this curious graphic novel explores those daunting social changes that haunt the reality of adulthood.

    Hyperbole and a Half by Allie Brosh: A collection of blog posts and new comics from Brosh's blog of the same name, this graphic novel explores everything from grammatical errors to heavier topics like depression and adulthood. Hyperbole and a Half is a hilarious read that you'll fly through whether or not you've kept up with Brosh's blog.

    Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi: Now an animated film, this novel is a memoir of a young girl's daily life in Iran during the Iranian Revolution. A lesson on history and politics in addition to a coming-of-age tale, this graphic novel is a must-read for those exploring the genre.

    Obsessive Consumption by Kate Bingaman-Burt: Perfect for a gal on a budget, this book is the result of the author's personal project to pay off her debt after university by drawing each item she purchased, as well as her credit card bills, until the debt was paid off. While this book is more of a collection of cute doodles than a graphic novel, the pictures included tell a story in their own right, as they follow Bingaman-Burt through her wedding planning, as well as everyday experiences.

    Fun Home by Alison Bechdel: Capturing the combination of humor, depth, and sadness that laces our everyday experiences, this memoir focuses on Bechdel's relationship with her now-deceased father. The name of the book itself, which is derived from the family's nickname for the funeral home where the father once worked, illustrates the tragicomedy nature of this impactful read.

    Have you read any of these graphic novels? Which one is next on your list?


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  • Wednesday, April 9, 2014

    To live a life that’s inspiring to others, it’s important to take time to reflect on your beliefs, motivations, and values. We believe that declaring what’s important to you and reminding yourself daily of those values will help you stay true to who you are, even in the face of busy schedules and the media’s mixed messages. How can you formulate your own manifesto? Here is a writing activity that will help you center on your core values and beliefs.

    Image via A Blog Named Scout

    1. Take A Seat: To begin, go somewhere that will help you clear your mind and enable you to hone in on the things that matter most. This may involve a coffee shop, park, beach, or your bedroom -- opt for whichever element suits you best.

    2. Gather Tools: Decide on the writing tools and format that will help you brainstorm. Some people write the most when they use a notebook, while others’ minds flow freely in the presence of a laptop. It might be easier for some to let their words wander in prose form, while you might find it easier to write in bullet points to keep your thought process clear.

    3. Brainstorm: Figure out which topics you want to write about. Perhaps you’ll want to first focus on a specific topic, like friendships or personal style, creating separate manifestos for different areas of your life. You can always combine these lists later, or jump straight ahead to one master list that combines the important aspects of each category.

    4. Write!: Keep your pen or the keys moving until you feel you’ve covered all of the important bases. Feel free to revisit the list over the next few days, adding as you see fit.

    5. Narrow It Down: Now that you have your list or collection of lists, sort through it until you’re down to the top 10 or 15 values and beliefs. Remember, you can always combine the similar points!

    After you complete your manifesto, rewrite it or reformat it and display it somewhere you’ll see it each day, whether that’s in your kitchen, at your desk, or on the bathroom mirror. Viewing the manifesto daily will allow the inspiration and reminders sink in so that you can live out your beliefs to the fullest each day. Consider incorporating aspects of your manifesto into your social media profiles as well, or sharing it with your friends to help lift their spirits.

    Some of our employees have also been creating their own manifestosl! Here are some snippets of our beliefs at Ruche:

    “I believe in random acts of kindness.”

    “I believe that travel, whether it’s a weekend road trip or a grand European adventure, gives me a fresh perspective on life.”

    “I believe in being boldly feminine, with equal parts grace and strength.”

    Your manifesto is your personal expression of who you are, so alter it and add to it whenever the mood strikes. The manifesto is for your own benefit, to help build you up and shine each day, so that you can be your best self and love beautifully. In turn, your manifesto will help others through the lovely life you create.

    Have you ever written your own manifesto? What will your manifesto include?

    Live beautifully,

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  • Wednesday, April 2, 2014

    If you feel like you have nothing to wear (don’t we all!), the solution may be as simple as cleaning out your closet. It’s said that we wear 20% of our clothing 80% of the time, so it’s only natural that we’d stress over our style with so many unused items clogging up our wardrobe. Give yourself a fresh start this spring cleaning season by weeding out the items you never wear, coordinating the items you do, and making your closet space an inspiring haven filled with your absolute favorite items. To help you with this process, we’re sharing our favorite tips for cleaning out your closet and curating the right wardrobe for you.

    Image via Live Simply

    Before You Begin:
    1. Find a friend or family member to help you sort through your stuff if you’re not the best at letting things go. It’s easy to get overly sentimental about your belongings partway through the closet clean-out process, so having someone there to help you be realistic could make all the difference.

    2. Spend a little time thinking about your wardrobe and style. What are your main issues with your current collection? Are you expressing yourself through your clothing the way you’d like? Decide what you want your style to reflect so that when it’s time to clean, you’ll know which items you’ll be looking to keep and which items won’t line up with your desired aesthetics.

    3. Invest in some new hangers. Flimsy plastic or wire hangers won’t help you preserve your favorite pieces, and some hangers have slippery surfaces that cause your favorite dresses to end up on the floor. Buy a set of wooden, velvet, or cushioned hangers to give your closet a lush, uniform look, or decorate your current hangers for a pretty makeover.

    4. Decide on storage space for items you’ll want to keep around, but shouldn’t have hanging in your closet at the moment (heavy coats, sentimental items, etc). Perhaps you can hang them in an extra closet, pack them in boxes to put in the attic, or store them in an empty set of drawers.  

    5. Come up with an organizational layout to arrange your clothes in once the items are pared down. One way to organize is to arrange by type of item; you can hang tops together, dresses together, sweaters together, and so on. From there you can arrange each section by type of sleeve, fanciness level, or color if you so desire. Plan to arrange your clothing by whatever pattern makes the most sense to you and will help you utilize your wardrobe on a day-to-day basis.

    6. Get excited! The process of cleaning out your closet may sound exhausting, but think forward to how free you’ll feel once you get rid of the items that are weighing you down. If you need more motivation to clean, remember that having extra space in your closet means you can reward yourself to a few new items once the process is complete.  

    Image via My Peep Toes

    Time To Tackle:
    1. If the whole process of cleaning out your closet seems too daunting, try breaking down the work into categories. You can focus on paring down pants one day, dresses another, and so on. If you opt for this plan, just make sure to schedule it out so that you make continuing the process a priority!

    2. Begin by moving your absolute favorite, most-worn items into a special pile of items to keep. As you move these pieces, check for damage and consider tossing items that have been over-worn.

    3. Create two other piles in addition to that christened “keep” pile -- one for items to donate/swap, and one for items to throw out (anything with holes, hopeless stains, etc).

    4. As you move through each item in your closet, ask yourself these questions:
    - Does this item fit me at my current weight?
    - Is this item flattering?
    - Is this item something I’ve worn in the last year?
    - Does this item fit my style and the rest of the wardrobe?
    - Do I feel good about myself when I wear this piece?
    If you can’t answer “yes” to these questions, it’s time for the item to go!

    5. If you’re not sure about an item, try it on. Most of the time there’s a good reason why you’re not wearing the items hiding in the back of your closet, and trying them on might remind you what that reason is.  

    6. If you’re in the process of losing weight and want to keep the smaller items around, put them in a storage spot for the time being. That way, they won’t take up closet space for the time being and won’t discourage you from loving yourself at your current weight if your weight loss journey takes a little longer than expected.

    7. Keep an eye out for nice items that don’t quite fit but could be easily altered. If you want to give these pieces a chance, place them in a bag to take to a tailor. If a month goes by and the bag is still sitting in a corner of your room, they become items to donate.

    8. If you have heavy coats and boots that you won’t be wearing until fall arrives, store them in one of the spots you set aside to keep your focus on the season at hand.

    9. Remember that your sentimental items (band shirts, prom dresses, etc) can also go into storage, as well as maternity clothing you might be using again in the future.

    10. Don’t forget to sort through your shoes and accessories! Are you really going to use that old purse again? And it might be time to say goodbye to the scuffed heels.

    11. As you put the items you’re keeping back in your closet, slip them onto your new hangers and arrange them according to the organizational layout you came up with. Ta-da!

    Image via My Peep Toes

    1. Take your pile of donatable items to a charity, or plan a clothing swap with friends. Either way, you’ll make sure that the items you’re getting rid of are being used by someone else.

    2. Decorate! Add fun wallpaper to your closet, find a new way to display your jewelry, or invest in cute shelves or hanging organizers. Giving your wardrobe a personal touch will help you appreciate the clothing you have and remind you of the style you want to reflect each day.

    3. Keep tabs on what you wear by switching the direction of your hanger once you've worn something that season. That way, you can get through all of your items (or most of them) before turning the hangers around to reset your wardrobe. If you spot pieces that aren’t being used, you can reassess what you’ve kept and toss even more. You can also use sticky notes for this method, or move used items to the back of the closet to help you single out which ones you never touch. This method will not only help you spot the unused items, but will reassure you that you’re not repeating your outfits too often if that’s a concern of yours.

    4. Enjoy your pared down wardrobe for a few months without allowing yourself to buy anything new. After you've seen what you really have and what you might be lacking, treat yourself here and there. Make sure that you really love those new items you buy, and if not, return them before it's too late! You don't want to ruin your hard work by bulking up your closet with items that will never be worn.

    5. Remember that cleaning out your closet is a chance to reinvent your style! As you add new items to your collection, seek out pieces that match the values and aesthetics you want to embody. Maybe it’s time to add fun prints to your collection of monochromatic items, or perhaps you want to polish your casual style with some sophisticated editions. Now is the time to make changes by gradually building the wardrobe of your dreams.

    We hope you’ll be inspired to clean out your closet this spring! Having an organized wardrobe will not only make it easier to get dressed in the morning, but will improve your personal confidence and your gratitude towards your belongings. Do you have any tips for cleaning out your closet? We’d love to hear your spring cleaning tips!


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  • Tuesday, March 25, 2014

    To live beautifully requires throwing caution to the wind and stepping out in your goals and activities. It’s easier said than done, but the more you challenge yourself to take risks socially and artistically, the less daunting each new action will seem. In order to get us started, we’ve come up with a list of ten items that push the boundaries of our comfort zones. Select a few tasks that speak to your own apprehensions, and make it a point to complete them over the course of the next couple of months. By the end of your challenge, you’ll be surprised at how much you’ve grown!

    1. Share your work at an open mic night: Reading a poem you’ve been working on or playing your latest song in front of an audience will help you become comfortable with your own work and open you up to discussing your art in the future. Plus, you could make a new friend (or a fan)!

    2. Open an Etsy store: If you make jewelry, knit, paint, or have any cute crafts in mind, get your work out there through an Etsy store. Not only will you be able to share you work with others, but you could turn a profit to help fund future projects and adventures.

    3. Submit creative or journalistic writing to an online or print magazine: Sharing your writing can be intimidating, but you can’t get published unless you try. If you don’t get selected, you might receive much-needed constructive criticism which will benefit your writing in the long run. And if you do get selected? You’ll be especially thankful you gave it a shot!

    4. Take an improv class: Putting your sense of humor on trial is quite the test, but you might get more laughs than you expected. Taking an improv class can also help you with public speaking, which will translate to your ability to do well in a job or interview. And improv classes are always a great way to meet new people!

    5. Explore a new place: It’s easy to spend your days in the same square-mile radius, so take a chance on someplace new. Make dinner reservations in a neighboring city, or go for a hike on trails you’ve never tested.

    6. Try a new food: Ever gone out for Ethiopian? Or perhaps you’ve always shied away from olives? There’s no better time to try new food, and you could ending up loving what you taste. And if you dislike it just as much as you thought you might, you can at least say with confidence that, yes, the texture of shrimp just isn’t for you.

    7. Host a dinner party or brunch: Having people over is a wonderful lesson in confidence. If you’re new to cooking, opt for simple meals or attempt to make the food ahead of time on a trial run. If you’re more of a seasoned chef, take a chance on a challenging or inventive recipe. In the rare possibility that you experience a total food fiasco, you can always mend the problem by ordering take-out and laughing with your friends about it. We’ve all been there!

    Photography: Brandon Kidd

    8. Start a blog or YouTube channel: If you’ve been wanting to share you fun DIYs, recipes, fashion sense, or photography with others, pick the format that suits you best and dabble in a bit of self-promotion. You’ll end up connecting with like-minded people and will feel far more confident in your craft.

    9. Ask someone new to coffee: Making new friends can be intimidating, but we’re all in the same boat. Take the initiative and ask someone you’ve crossed paths with to coffee or reach out to an old friend to reconnect. The other person may be just as nervous to make plans and will thank you for stepping up to the plate.

    10. Tackle a long-time fear: Many of us have an overarching fear that can interfere with many of our dreams. If you’ve always been afraid of heights, sign up for rock-climbing lessons and gradually make your way closer to the top each week. If the thought of flying scares you, book a trip that involves a very short plane ride to help you ease into it. Don’t worry about conquering your fears overnight -- just push yourself in whichever ways you can and your confidence will blossom.

    Which acts of courage will you challenge yourself with this season? Do you have any tips on branching out  to share with us?


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  • Wednesday, March 5, 2014

    Just as we interact through body language and physical gesture, we can communicate via flowers as well! Victorians used to express their feelings through the language of flowers, a practice inspired by Ottoman traditions and an increased interest in botany. Before filling your home with blossoms or gifting flowers to a friend, take a look at the meaning behind the bloom to make sure your choice carries the deeper meaning you’re after! Here are the unspoken messages behind some of our favorite flowers.

    : Like many flowers, camellias have different meanings based on color. In general, camellias can represent admiration or are used to wish the receiver good luck, making them perfect to send to a friend before a big interview. Pink camellias represent longing and red camellias represent passion, making those colors better suited for gifting within a romantic relationship, while white camellias let the receiver know that they’re adorable, which is fitting to many friend and family interactions.

    Chrysanthemum: In general, chrysanthemums represent cheerfulness and rest. These are the perfect flowers to surround yourself with at home as they’ll lift your mood and help you relax after a long day at work. They also make a great gift for a friend who’s been feeling a bit blue or could use a vacation.

    Hyacinth: The color of hyacinths matter a great deal when it comes to language. Purple hyacinths represent apology and sorrow, making them a lovely gift for a friend you need to make amends with or someone who is in mourning. Blue hyacinths represent constancy and loyalty, while white hyacinths let the receiver know you’re in their thoughts. Be wary of gifting yellow hyacinths, though, as they represent jealousy!

    Lavender: Not only does lavender have calming properties used in homeopathic remedies, it represents devotion and grace. Lavender is the perfect flower to slip into your wedding bouquet or decorate a bridal shower with!